This is Carl's Brain
10 Questions with Jay Caselberg
  1. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

 

Hum. That’s difficult. There are so many to choose from, but one for the rest of my life? Finnegan’s Wake probably. Trying to find meanings would probably occupy me unendingly.

 

  1. Of all of the places you have lived in or visited, what is your favorite place?

At last count I have visited, lived in or worked in 72 countries, and of course countless many more than that if you count cities. Each has particular charms. I am quite comfortable where I live now, in Germany. It offers many advantages, but it’s different living somewhere and visiting it. I am still always drawn back to Sydney. There’s so much beauty there. For sheer awesomeness though, it has to be Angkor Watt. One of these days I’ll go back.

 

  1. Who is your favorite writer?

So many to choose from, so little time. I don’t have a clear favorite per se. Gene Wolfe is a master craftsman. James Lee Burke for his crime touching on Magic Realism and his sheer descriptive prose and characterization. Very fond of David Mitchell too. Hopefully we’ll see something new from him again soon.

 

  1. What is your favorite genre to write in?

 

I don’t have a favorite. The story tends to dictate. I’m a lover of Noir, so a few of my tales have a Noir sensibility. I like crime, so that creeps in. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, they are all there or blendings of them. Generally there’s a dark edge to the fiction, but that’s just what’s in the back of my head.

 

  1. What current writing projects are you working on?

 

Any short story or poem that bites me along the way, but right now I have a couple of projects underway. One is a future noir space opera-ish kind of thing. The other is something pretty dark. I’ve realized that quite a few of my tales are ghost stories. Well, this is novel length, and it’s kind of a ghost story, but kind of not.

 

  1. What made you start writing?

 

I am not really sure. I read a lot as a kid. We moved around a lot, so many of my relationships growing up were transitory, so books became the constant friends. Maybe I just realized I wanted to do that too. Give that opportunity to people. Later, and this was part of my teaching career as well, it was wanting to be able to play with people’s heads. That’s still there….

 

  1. What is your best quality as a writer?

 

I’m maybe not the best judge of that. I am told it’s atmosphere and characterization. I’m not sure any writer can reasonably assess their own work. There’s stories I love that people hate. There’s stories that I think are okay, that people love. It’s also different at novel and short fiction length. But all in all, I’m going to stick with those two.

 

  1. Which person do you most admire?

 

That’s really, really difficult to answer. Not sure that I think of people in terms of admiration. I may admire an achievement, or a creation or an act, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to admiration of the person. Does that make me a misanthrope? Maybe.

 

  1. How do you define success as a writer?

 

Readers.

 

  1. If you could invite five people to a dinner party (alive or dead, real or fictional) who would you invite?

Hmm. Interesting. Is it prompted by their characters or their foodiness? Hard to say which. Probably the polymath Einstein (as much for his movie work as for his brain). Marilyn Monroe (as much for her brain as her presence) Franz Kafka (cos you have to have a little weirdness at the table) Xenobia (Gotta love a strong woman) and Hannibal Lecter (because at least he’d appreciate the food and wine)